I’ve chosen a word for the year for the last couple of years and it’s been a really important part of my self-growth and expansion.
For 2016 I’ve decided my focus word will be CONNECTION.
Need some pointers on how to look after yourself now that you’re a mama?
It all starts with making yourself your top priority. These 9 tips can help.
#1 – Nurture yourself
Make time for you. I learned almost too late just how important VITAL this is. I had this strange idea that the people around me needed to nurture me. That I needed to be nurtured by my husband, by my parents and by my friendships and of-course this was only causing resentment and dissatisfaction on my part when they weren’t meeting my expectations. The nurturing had to come from inside me. Start small. Take baby steps. Make little goals. Mine were really simple at first – take my vitamin every morning, drink more water, journal more.
#2 – Value yourself
As above, if you don’t value yourself then who will? Value your time, your effort, your energy. Value your body, your mind, your spirit. Value the beautiful talents and gifts you bring to the world. Value your originality and unique features – there are 7 billion people in the world and there is no one else quite like you! That is a pretty amazing thought and you’re obviously something special. Feel it. Know it. And let yourself shine!
#3 – Support yourself
Be that person for yourself. Start a project and encourage and motivate yourself. Bask in the joy of completion and internal satisfaction instead of external praise. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is so valuable, and I believe it’s been quoted that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. That is a very powerful thought. But often we need to be our own cheerleader too and that is even more powerful.
#4 – Comfort yourself
Take time to rest and check in with yourself as often as possible. Look after yourself in the way that you would have wanted to be cared for when you were a child. Especially if you are battling illness – mental or physical – take lots of time to care for yourself, to feel that comfort that comes from meeting your needs. And if your stress is emotional then soothe yourself, hold yourself tight, be your own friend instead of criticising, judging or worrying. If there is no one who will listen, then turn to what makes you feel good – write in a journal, sketch or draw or paint, do some exercise, get plenty of sunshine, indulge in comforting drinks and maybe bake a treat, turn on some beautiful music and dance your worries away or let the music inspire a restful sleep. Simple Lavender essential oil is brilliant for times of stress and anxiety. I desperately sniffed a handkerchief soaked with lavender oil in the late stages of my third pregnancy to help me sleep peacefully at night.
#5 – Inspire yourself
Go to the art gallery. Take a walk in a forest. Sit at the beach and draw in the sand while the sound of the crashing waves hypnotizes your mind and lets your worries slip away. That’s when magic happens. Inspire yourself with everything that brings out your passions and reach deep down within yourself to recognise your true desires. From here, everything will flow.
#6 – Love yourself
Self-love. It’s something you know about and although I know there are mamas out there who are pretty good at continuing this throughout motherhood, it is something a lot of us leave by the wayside with our pre-pregnancy bodies, desires and interests. Becoming a mama changes you… there is no way around that. But under all those new layers are still parts of the ‘old’ you which is just another way of saying the ‘authentic’ you. The you who you truly are. Self-love is all about re-connecting with that part of yourself. If you take the time to re-discover your authentic self I promise you, amazing things will happen. You really will begin to love yourself in that pure, conscious way. The way we all deserve to be loved. And it all starts inside of you.
#7 – Be kind to yourself
Show yourself compassion. Listen to yourself. Listen to your needs and try to communicate them to those around you as easily as you can. Realise that high expectations can put a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on our lives, and you’re worth more than stress and pressure. Life is for living and yes, life does come with regrets and mistakes. That’s part of how we learn and as long as we keep living, we’ll keep learning and we need to be gentle with ourselves throughout that process. Use kind words when you see yourself in the mirror. Say, I love you. Say, I see you. Think kind thoughts about what is going on in your life – remember every day when you get up, you get the opportunity to start again. So do that. As often as you need to. Some parts of life are just plain hard. There’s no need to feel guilt about that. It is what it is. Treating yourself with the empathy and compassion you show others, is what you really need from yourself during the intense phases of motherhood.
#8 – Enjoy yourself
Be a friend to yourself. Remember how FUN you are! I can be quite a serious person so this is something I need to remind myself of often. Life is so much more enjoyable when you can smile through it. Play your favourite music. Take yourself to the movies. Book that holiday. Buy yourself flowers. Dance in the rain. Bask in the sunshine. It’s all there for you.
#9 – Perfection doesn’t exist
I only wrote 9 tips because it’s not a perfect list, and being a mama is NOT about being perfect or having a perfect life. Perfection is impossible and unattainable. I encourage you to take the word perfection completely out of your vocabulary. Stop apologising for your seeming ‘imperfections’ – actually stop saying “I’m so sorry the house isn’t perfectly clean!” or “I’m sorry I’m not the perfect mother.” – because you are not perfect. And neither am I. Or any other human on earth! We’re all just that… human. You are divinely human. And you are uniquely, womanly human, nurturing, valuing, supporting, comforting, inspiring, loving, kind and joyful. A mama – born from woman and as real as every other mama on this planet.
Fall in love with yourself again. Try to see yourself as a child, the way that your mama looked at you when she was holding you as a newborn in her arms. Or the way that you stared at your new baby endlessly when you knew you should be sleeping instead. Find that love and peace inside yourself and feel that about yourself. I promise. You’re worth it.
Self-love and self-care have been incredibly important to me in the last year. I have a half-finished post in the works that explains my journey in more detail, but today I wanted to talk more about a very physical evidence of the inner work I’m doing. Over on Instagram this week The Little Sage suggested for readers to share their personal altars. Creating a post about my altar – or my Self-Love Shelf – has been on my to-do blogging list for quite while so I decided to use take that instagram request as a gentle universal nudge to share it now.
I started with a plain white shelf from the hardware store. And that’s where it stayed for weeks! I somehow felt I had to mentally prepare myself for what this would represent and how I wanted to achieve it. I decided I would let it come naturally and build up different elements as the right pieces found their way to me.
Because I have little people around and I wanted this shelf to be purely for me to indulge in (Hannah and Blake each have their own shelf), I decided to place it up high where it couldn’t be climbed to. One day I’d love to have a shelf/altar lower down that I can sit and meditate at, but for now this is just fine. It’s placed between our bedroom door and the wadrobe door so I see it everytime I enter or exit the bedroom.
I started with my crystals. I had only a few when I began, and although I have more than this now, this is the design I like them in at the moment. I have been using my clear quartz point crystal a lot, when doing my oracle card readings or journaling. Clarity is something I’ve been carving lately and indeed most of the time! The oracle cards that are always on my shelf are The Little Sage cards and the Doreen Virtue Daily Guidance from your Angels cards. On top of the cards are a bear-shaped stone Blake found for me and a key, to represent a key I was given as a gift by my guides in a meditation. The delightful candle was a gifted and handmade by a wonderful friend.
The Alchemical Oils are from Sacred Self and were a self-love gift to myself. There are feathers collected from walks in the park, heart-shaped rocks that Hannah and I found on the beach and a wooden mother and child ornament given to me by a friend. This reminds me to practice gratitude for my role as a mother.
The ‘breathe’ and rainbow rock are from my blessingway when I was pregnant with Daisy and the blue pendulum was another little gift to myself. During this journey I have become a lot better at recognising that buying lovely things for myself is a necessity not an indulgence.
Affirmations by Louise Hay and Danielle LaPorte surround a ‘Work In Progress’ painting I did with the kids one day and Oracle Cards that I wanted to see every day are above them. A beautiful angel from another friend is hanging beside the cards, reminding me I am always safe and protected. The butterflies are from another craft session Hannah, Blake and I enjoyed, representing transformation and change.
And above all else is a visual depiction of our 5 year vision. Maybe I’ll save that story for another time. I hope this has inspired you to make your own Self-Love Shelf too, you’re worth something beautiful in your home just for you. Clear a shelf on the bookshelf, buy that gorgeous candle you’ve been coveting or try some meditations (The Little Sage have quite a few lovely ones) if you’ve never done them before. Sometimes us mamas neglect our spiritual and sensual side the most. Fall in love with yourself again.
I chose GRATITUDE as my focus word at the beginning of 2014. Now, I am ending the year feeling more full, more thankful and more truly grateful than I have ever felt before.
Practicing gratitude directly and with focus over the last 12 months has meant that being grateful feels a part of me. I immediately feel grateful for even the littlest things – the salt water on my skin, the giggle of my children in my ears, and my husbands hand in mine as we journeyed through this years ups and downs together.
I now know what it is that I want to be grateful for. I now know that gratitude is about creating a life where EVERYTHING in it is something I can feel grateful for.
2014 has been a truly blessed year, but also one that was full of challenges for me personally. I struggled, I fell down, I lost my way. I forgot to appreciate myself. This was a hard lesson for me to learn but I am slowly realising that it’s my most important lesson. I learned this year that I had put myself on the back-burner and that it wasn’t healthy or helpful to do that. I learned that letting my light shine wasn’t only important, but that it was a necessity.
Throughout this year I re-discovered myself. Sometimes it felt like I was finally on the right path and at other times it felt like one thing after another was going wrong, like all my hard work was pointless. In hindsight, I know it was all a crucial part of the journey and I learned to have gratitude for even the days that caused me stress and hurt.
My perspective began to shift once I started doing this and choosing joy was easier than before. I always tried to live my life by looking at the positive, on the bright side, and now I don’t feel that I have to try anymore. It comes easily now and this makes me realise how 12 months of really deep inner work has so many benefits.
Brian and I really felt into our deep desires for our family and allowed them to blossom. We made our family, our happiness and future together our first priority, and we refused to feel that we should settle for any less than amazing. We do live an amazing life and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
My children, oh, they’re beings of goodness and light and although as every mama knows the days are long, the years are so very short. Time passes in the blink of an eye and I just want to soak up every inch of time with these three amazing little people. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to be their mama.
So thank you 2014, you set in motion a foundation I will continue to build on for the rest of my life and I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings. I know it is going to be epic and full of ABUNDANCE.
During my pregnancy with Blake I became increasingly desperate for a community of like-minded families to surround ours in support and friendship. I tried a few different groups and then finally struck gold when Blake was a few months old. These mamas were exactly what I was looking for and our connections have meant so much to me and my family over the last 4 years.
Something we began doing as a group a couple of years ago was camping! Brian and I had already been camping with the kids a few times before and this was exactly how we enjoyed our holidays, so to do it with our friends was a bonus.
We began camping two to three times a year and increasingly our locations turned bush, which lead to Brian and I really falling in love with basic, bush camping. This time we went to a farm-stay which has more amenities than we normally have, but with three small kids, it’s always welcomed!
We had such a great time. We drove down interstate to the camping location the day before everyone else did, and the kids lit a small campfire and toasted a few marshmallows to celebrate.
The site we had booked as a group was quite sunny, so the children were able to witness a lot of discussion and negotiation as we all worked out how to set up our ‘living areas’ (lots of gazebos pushed together to create our kitchen, eating and lounging zones).
The kids were always around, helping in their own little ways 😉
The dam was incredible and we spent quite a bit of time there. Hannah loved the kayaks and enjoyed paddling them with or without me or Brian joining her. Blake was slightly more hesitant, but with the dam water being so murky I couldn’t really blame him. It was so calming just being there among the water-lillies and the dragonflies. I love being in new environments, and for the children it always sparks their creativity and imaginations.
One of the plans us mamas had while camping as a group, was to indulge in some yoga, chanting and meditation together. Many of us have been on a journey of self-discovery and self-love this year, and yoga and meditation were some activities that quite a few of us had enjoyed before, so we wanted to share that as a group. It was beautiful to connect in this way, whilst also nourishing ourselves as people first.
The children were free to join in as they pleased and most of the older kids got right into it, especially with some of the more up-beat chanting music that we had available. A friend and I had been to a Kundalini yoga retreat a month prior and most of that music is very uplifting and positive. Even Daisy tried out a few yoga poses! On the last day, all our partners sat and supported us by watching us and the kids, and it was lovely to have their encouraging presence around us while we took time to care for ourselves. So beautifully nourishing and revitalising.
Of-course being a farmstay, there were quite a few animals to feed and pat and cuddle so the kids spent many hours enjoying those experiences. Hannah and Blake predictably adored the bunnies and were devastated that we couldn’t take a couple home (they’re considered a pest in our state).
We even discovered a Mulberry tree on the property and the kids were excited to climb the trees and taste as many Mulberry’s as they liked.
Apart from the animals, the campfire every night was a sacred, much-anticipated event for the kids and the adults alike. The first camping trip we went on where we were able to light a big campfire, we set up a rope around the perimeter and explained to the children to stay on the outside of it. So many people had expressed their surprise at doing a big fire with small children around, but like with everything a lot of trust and a little adult supervision means the children have always been free to enjoy it as the amazing experience that it is.
Five days, eleven families, and over twenty children under the age of 6 enjoying nature, time together, exploring and learning… well, I call that a successful holiday!!!
Anyone who knows me, knows I love op-shopping. It’s one of my favourite things to do.
Actually, it’s like a little addiction. I look forward to going, to see what I can score, and I get a little thrill from spending $50 and getting bags and bags of great stuff for so cheap.
I don’t get to op-shop as much as I would like these days, but my parents live conveniently close to quite a few and because those shops are in such close proximity to each other it makes it easier to go there with the kids. I never feel guilty about the spending I do at op-shops. I know I wouldn’t be able to find half the stuff I buy there at regular stores and they’re a great place to find home-schooling resources if I think creatively. Even though they’re much more expensive now than when my Dad and I first started going op-shopping together when I was in my teens, there are still plenty of times I get a great bargain.
This particular shop and I go way back. I’ve been shopping here since before I was pregnant with Hannah. Quite a lot of the kids clothes have come from this store and they have a particularly awesome book section. I’m pretty sure they have cultivated their parenting//lifestyle section just for me! If I ever want to read a book about a specific parenting, pregnancy or birth topic I just think about it and 90 percent of the time when I come to this op-shop I find the perfect book on its shelves…! Today I was grateful to come home with a bag bursting with books including one about unschooling – exactly what I was hoping to find.
Where did the time go?!
Since we moved house I have been slowly organising myself for your arrival. My days are always busy with your brother and sister and their needs and wants, but you, my darling girl, are never far from my mind. I often walk around the house with my hand absentmindedly pushing against your little feet that like to prod out against my skin. Or when I am sitting down my shirt is always up so I can feel you skin to skin. I also think about you every day. I wonder what you will look like, and how chubby you’ll be, if you’ll have hair and if your features will be similar to your siblings.
I wonder about your birth a lot. I have written a plan, and I have discussed it with you, but whether everything goes as planned remains to be seen. Hannah and Blake will be joining us in the birthing room to welcome you into the world. They are getting very excited now and tell me my belly is getting bigger every day! Blake often asks if I can push you out already and Hannah is beyond thrilled that there is only weeks to go rather than the months and months she has been counting down. We have been preparing for your birth and also the days and weeks after your arrival by watching lots of videos and reading lots of books about labour, birth, newborns and babycare.
Hannah in particular has had several things she wanted to do during this pregnancy and one was to paint my bump after seeing a photo of a mother with her belly painted on my computer. So when I was 34 weeks pregnant I bought some body paint and stencil kits and let Hannah go for it. She had a ball and it was such a lovely bonding activity for us, I hope you enjoyed it too baby.
I have begun to pack my birth centre bag and have washed and put away all your teeny newborn clothes. I have masses of breast pads and maternity pads and muslin wraps for those heady babymoon days. And I am so looking forward to those first weeks after birth with you. With Hannah they were too distressing and with Blake they were too busy, so this time, it will be just your daddy, your sister, your brother and I (and a few very close friends and family) gazing at you with adoration in those first couple of weeks.
And hopefully the day that we finally meet you is not so far away. I have begun to experience pre-labour and I have a feeling I will not be pregnant on your 15 August due date. You are also a lot lower – not quite engaged but definitely in my pelvis – than either your brother or sister were at this stage so that is causing quite a bit of pressure and separation in my pelvis. I’m still getting the random itching and restless legs which combined with the massive varicose veins in my left leg, the constant Braxton Hicks and the need to pee every hour and it becomes pretty obvious that I’m not getting much sleep! As beautiful and as incredible as pregnancy is, it is extremely hard work growing another human being in your own body. I fully intend to appreciate these last days of this pregnancy but some more [comfortable] sleep would be amazing!
Since this may be the last time I grow a new person in my belly I have been wanting to do some things to commemorate the occasion. However, time seems to be passing by so quickly and I haven’t had a chance to do half the things I imagined I would. Luckily for me, I have a truly gorgeous community of mothers around me who organised a very special Blessingway for us recently. They pampered me, and each wrote a special birth affirmation on a banner for me and then we all sat in a circle and did a special wrist binding ceremony. I love looking at my little wool bracelet and knowing I have the support and positive birthing vibes from mamas who have all given birth before and know what I’m going thorugh. My very good friend was also kind enough to do a belly casting for me and I was so excited! I have been wanting one ever since I was pregnant with Hannah and now I finally have one. These little events have certainly made these last difficult days of pregnancy more enjoyable.
So baby girl, enjoy hanging out in my womb for the next little while, I’ll be ready and waiting to welcome you with open arms whenever you decide to enter this wonderful world of ours.